Reducing The Risk of Getting Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic cancer cannot be prevented and presently there are no easy tests for early detection. However, you can take steps to minimize risk. Awareness, vigilance, and adapting a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk. Do not assume that cancer of the pancreas is merely a disease that affects older people. Although it is true that the overwhelming number of those diagnosed are over 55 years of age, there are many younger people that have fallen victim. See the Warrior Stories.
There are several facts to consider. It takes about 11 years for the first mutated cancer cell to develop and about another 7-10 years to accumulate enough cancerous cells to form a tumor the size of a plum before symptoms become prominent. So, the beginning of pancreatic cancer is actually many years before it is usually detected, This is why diligence is so crucial regardless of age.
The average 5-year survival rate for a pancreatic cancer diagnosed at all stages is about 6%. However, only 9% of cases are discovered while confined to the pancreas and 91% are found at later stages when it has likely spread to other organs. When it is detected while confined to the pancreas the 5-year survival rate is actually about 28% versus 2.8% after metastasis (spreads). When detected early, the rate of survival is magnified ten-fold.
How To Lower The Risks
Be attentive to the symptoms and know the major risk factors. There are pancreatic cancer risk factors beyond your control including advancing age, gender, race, and family history. However, smoking, obesity which can cause type 2 diabetes, and the chronic form of pancreatitis which most often is caused by long term abuse of alcohol will substantially increase risk.
Some studies show that smoking increases risk by up to 50%. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says obese people with sedentary lifestyle are at twice the risk as those who are physically active and follow a healthy diet. The study suggests that 15 percent of pancreatic cancer could be eliminated by maintaining proper body weight and diet with just moderate exercise.
ONE. Don’t smoke. If you do, quit.
TWO. Follow a healthy lifestyle. Minimize the risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes.
THREE. Limit alcohol use to moderate level to help avoid chronic pancreatitis.
FOUR. If symptoms persist particularly along with uncontrollable risk factors, see your physician.
FIVE. Discuss family history of pancreatic cancer and concerns with your doctor.